The digital advertising space is filled with plenty of jargon and acronyms that can easily overwhelm the most experienced campaigners. To make informed decisions about your campaign’s digital strategy, you need to understand what they mean.
In an earlier post, we shared the key advertising metrics you need to know for decoding advertising reports. In this post, we’re breaking down the terms and acronyms you’ll commonly hear from consultants, agencies, and vendors in the digital campaign space.
Instead of connecting individually with publishers, programmatic advertising gives ad buyers the ability to place their ads across multiple publishers simultaneously through digital auctions happening billions of times a day. In very simple terms, each time an ad exchange has an opportunity to show a site visitor an ad, the spot is sold to the highest bidder.
Programmatic advertising is especially valuable to political advertisers who are focused on reaching targeted voters with the right message, wherever they happen to be online.
In ad speak, a publisher is any entity like a website, app, or media company that creates content and offers advertising space. Publishers can sell ads directly to advertisers or use ad exchanges to facilitate these transactions.
Some publishers do not permit political advertising.
The buying and selling process that is integral to programmatic advertising happens within ad exchanges. These are large companies that facilitate the relationships between buyers and sellers. These transactions are facilitated by demand side platforms (DSPs) and supply side platforms (SSPs).
Some ad exchanges, like Microsoft’s Xandr, do not allow political advertising.
Demand Side Platform (DSP)
When buying ads programmatically, advertisers use a DSP to manage all of the aspects of their campaign, including creative, targeting, and budgeting. These platforms streamline the process and help advertisers analyze performance and adjust strategy based on real-time feedback.
Supply Side Platform (SSP)
Ad sellers – publishers – use an SSP to facilitate their part of the transaction. SSPs match sellers to buyers and ensure they sell their ad inventory for the most money possible.
Private Marketplace (PMP)
Publishers may also create their own private marketplaces for select advertisers who may bid on the publisher’s ad inventory before making it available to ad exchanges. This gives advertisers access to more premium inventory and gives the publisher greater control over their ad quality and pricing.
Data Management Platform (DMP)
Programmatic advertisers use data to determine which ad inventory they wish to bid on. This data could be demographic, like age, gender, or geography, or behavioral, such as previous site visitors or likely voters. To keep the data organized, advertisers rely on DMPs to segment and target their desired audiences.
First Party Data
First party data typically refers to information that has been collected by an advertiser about current or potential customers, such as past purchases or recent site visitors. That’s why it’s also sometimes called CRM data. In politics, advertising professionals treat voter files provided by the campaign as first party data since it may have additional modeling or campaign engagement attached to it.
First party data is loaded into a DMP so ad exchanges can then target and manage bids appropriately.
Supply Path Optimization (SPO)
Because the programmatic advertising landscape is so complex, some advertisers rely on supply path optimization (SPO) to minimize the distance between buyers and sellers. This helps reduce costs and increase efficiency by cutting unnecessary middlemen out of the ad buying process.
Programmatic advertising is not without risks. Because it is an automated process, it is susceptible to ad fraud whereby an advertiser could be deceived into paying for fake ad inventory. Some estimates put the cost of ad fraud in politics as high as $400 million in the last election cycle. Using ad fraud tools increases the cost of your advertising but it’s a worthwhile tradeoff to ensure the right voters are seeing the right message.
Since programmatic advertisers primarily bid on audiences rather than publishers, there’s a risk that ads appear alongside content that is not consistent with your values or sends revenue to websites you don’t wish to support. Brand safety tools give advertisers control to keep their ads off of sites and apps related to pornography, drugs, gambling, and other content.
Connected TV (CTV)
A connected TV is any TV that connects to the internet. CTV advertising is a part of OTT advertising. For voters who have cut the cord, CTV is how you get a campaign’s TV ads delivered. CTV advertising is frequently purchased programmatically.
Over The Top (OTT)
OTT is what the digital advertising industry calls streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime that deliver video content over the internet without cable or satellite TV. Not all OTT providers offer advertising and those that do may also prohibit political advertising. OTT advertising can be more precisely targeted than TV or cable advertising.
Cross platform measurement
As the media and entertainment landscape continues to fragment, it’s getting more difficult for campaigns to reach voters across the various different platforms where they consume content. Cross platform measurement gives advertisers tools to analyze the performance of a campaign across these multiple devices like desktops, tablets, phones, and connected TVs. In politics, this helps to ensure voters are getting the desired reach and frequency of campaign messages.
Campaigners will work with digital agencies and ad sales firms who deal with these terms every day. In order to ask the right questions and get the answers you need, it’s important to familiarize yourself with these terms and acronyms. Programmatic advertising is an essential campaign tactic, but as with anything on your campaign, you need to understand how it works.